What is the Difference Between Conjunctivochalasis and Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes and conjunctivochalasis have similar symptoms, and the two conditions are often mistaken. In most cases, people suffering from conjunctivochalasis are treated for dry eyes, which does not relieve the symptoms. The right diagnosis can only be made when the necessary tests are done and not just relying on the symptoms. Conjunctivochalasis and dry eye are two different eye conditions, although they share several symptoms. Below are the key differences between the two. 

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What Is Mechanical Dry Eye?

Mechanical eye problem refers to an age-related disorder characterized by folds on the conjunctiva, which can be seen between the eyelids and the eyeball. The conjunctiva is responsible for holding tears that lubricate the eyes. When it develops folds, the normal lubrication process is disrupted, causing symptoms like eye dryness. Mechanical eye problem mostly affects older people, from 60 years old. 

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a condition that occurs when the tears are unable to lubricate the eye adequately. These may happen when the eye does not produce enough tears or when the tears produced are of low quality. Dry eyes mostly affect older people above the age of 50. However, anyone can be affected by dry eyes, even if they are younger. 


A major cause of mechanical dry eye is the thinning and stretching of the conjunctiva that comes with old age. Other eye conditions like blepharitis, aqueous tear deficiency, and inflammation can also cause the condition. Exposure to eye surgeries may also cause it. 

Dry eye, on the other hand, occurs when the tear film is disrupted. This may be brought up by an autoimmune disease, hormonal changes, allergic eye disease, or inflammation of the eye glands. 

  • Blepharitis
  • Looking at screens for too long
  • Using contacts for a very long time
  • Usage of certain drugs such as antihistamines


Mechanical dry eye does not always cause symptoms. A person might live with it for several years without even knowing it. When it does, you may discover mechanical dry eye symptoms like:

  • Soreness in the eye
  • Itching or burning sensation in the eye
  • Feeling like there is a foreign body in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye fatigue even after adequate rest

Dry eye causes symptoms such as:

  • A stinging or burning sensation in the eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye fatigue
  • Watery eyes
  • Mucus around the eyes

Dry eyes can also lead to the production of excess tears. This happens when the eye gets irritated and sends a signal to the brain to produce more tears. The eye then makes a lot of tears to try to make up for the dryness. However, the tears don’t make the situation better as they are made of more water, which doesn’t lubricate the eye sufficiently. Good quality tears consist of water, oils, mucus, and antibodies. The condition is known as reflex tearing. 

You can see the two conditions have similar conditions, such as blurred vision and eye fatigue. Relying on the symptoms solely is what leads to misdiagnosis. 

Diagnosis And Treatment

Diagnosis of mechanical eye damage is usually made to detect folds in the conjunctiva. This is usually done using a slit lamp. After diagnosis, a patient may be treated using medications or surgery. It depends on the severity of the symptoms. 

An optometrist may recommend lubrication eye drops, antihistamines, or topical corticosteroids if a person is asymptomatic. Suppose the symptoms are severe or there is no relief after using the medications. In that case, surgery is usually an effective option as it relieves the symptoms and removes the folds, providing a long-term treatment solution. During the surgery, the folds are removed. The tear reservoir can also be blocked and then restored using an amniotic graft. One of the commonly used grafts is the Prokera cryopreserved amniotic membrane. It controls inflammation and facilitates faster healing after surgery. The procedures ease the symptoms, improving vision.

Treatment for dry eyes also varies according to the symptoms and cause of the condition. When you go to an eye doctor with symptoms of dry eyes, they start by asking you about your medical history. They then conduct tests to check the quantity of tears and whether the tear film is working properly or not.

Treatment aims at increasing lubrication in the eyes to ease the discomfort and improve vision. If an underlying condition causes the problem, it has to be treated since the symptoms of dry eyes will not go away when the cause of the condition has not been addressed. 

The most common treatment is the use of artificial tears. These can be prescribed by an eye specialist and are also available over the counter. An eye specialist may also choose to perform a procedure known as temporary punctual occlusion. During this procedure, the duct responsible for draining tears from the eye is closed. You might also be given a testosterone cream which is applied to the eyelids to help the oil glands perform better. Other types of treatment include the use of steroid drops and using a lipiflow, a device that unclogs blocked glands on the eyelids using pressure and heat. 

Dry eyes need to be treated as they can result in complications such as conjunctivitis eye infection, inflammation, and corneal surface damage. 

Conjunctivochalasis is mostly misdiagnosed as dry eyes since the two have the same symptoms and often affect older people. If you have dry eye that seems not to respond to treatment, you might talk to your eye care doctor for further tests to rule out other ocular problems. Conjunctivochalasis can easily be treated using medications or surgery, and you can live a normal life after that. If you’d like to learn more about mechanical dry eye, visit  https://discovermde.com/.

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